An important part of our business at Junction International is for clients in the Market Research and Consumer Insights Industries. More and more of our clients are realizing the importance of surveying their customers, regardless of industry, in their preferred or native language. Localizing surveys may seem simple and transparent at first sight but it requires an artful and analytical skill set to ensure that the translated versions are on-target, contextually precise and culturally correct. At the end of the day, we must guarantee that our clients can collect the information they need. And for that, we must be aware of the subtleties and nuances intended by the original writers.

Recently, Junction International translated a survey for a leading technology manufacturer. It required that we understand the goals of the survey, the demographics receiving the survey and the anticipated responses. Not only were we translating the entire survey into ten unique languages, we were translating each of the survey responses as well.

As is the case with all marketing projects, getting in early with translation is critically important. Waiting until the survey is complete and ready to be fielded to translate it to another language can end up wasting time and money – both crucial factors for any client launching a survey.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind when developing a survey and engaging a translation company like Junction International:

  • Know Your Markets: Localization is a critical part of survey translation. If you don’t make your survey respondents feel as though the survey was crafted just for them, they won’t spend the time completing it. This means, for example, that you may need more than one Spanish version of the survey; a Spanish version for Spain, another one for Mexico, and a third one for Spanish speakers in the U.S. may be necessary. 
  • Consider a Master Survey: Depending on the goal of the survey and how many different locales you plan on surveying, you may want to consider designing a master questionnaire first and then localizing certain questions for a specific market. For example, if you are creating a survey for a tire company, questions about winter or how to choose snow tires may not be as relevant in Brazil as it would be for Canada. 
  • Think Two Steps Ahead. When developing the survey, remember how many languages you plan on translating the content to. This will help you avoid jargon, nuances, technical terms and clichés while developing the questions that will make the translation much more difficult later on. Additionally, unless you consider it necessary, try to avoid using open-ended questions as this will only drive the costs up for translation of the responses. (If a survey respondent writes a two-paragraph response to an open-ended question, you will have to translate the entire text!)
  • Translate Everything: Don’t forget, a survey translation requires translation of the invitation, the introduction, reminder emails, validation emails (e.g. “Please answer this question before moving on to the next”), thank you emails, and anything else you are sending your audience.
  • Make Sure It’s In Final Form: As is the case with all translation projects, make sure your content is in its final form before sending to your translation partner. This will save you time and money in the long run – both of which are important factors when developing and fielding a successful survey!

For more tips and advice on translation services and cultural consulting, please visit Junction International or contact us directly online or by phone.